12.1 Dispelling blue light source

This measure refers to lighting sources installed in places with high suicide rates. The aim is to influence the behaviour of suicidal people with the help of light sources (usually blue or white) which is expected to calm emotions or to alter the nagative mood.
  • Check the laws on human integrity in your country before making the plans.
  • Check if you have a higher number of suicides during night time.
  • Lights should not be too intense in order to avoid blinding train drivers and interfering with railway signals installed on the tracks.
  • Be aware that light pollution can cause acceptance risks with neighbours and nature conservation organisations. Communicate before installing. Maybe not to be used in rural nature areas because of light pollution. Read here further details on how to reduce light pollution.
  • Impact of the spotlights for the people living in the direct environment could be an issue. For dispelling light sources there can be problems with national laws on human integrity.
  • Effective only during night time.
  • Blue streetlights are believed to be useful in preventing suicides and street crime. This encouraged an increasing number of railway companies to install blue light-emitting apparatus at stations to prevent people from jumping in front of trains.
  • It is expected that the effects are durable. Blue lights were first implemented in Japan in 2006 with reported positive results. This press article summarises the Japanese results.
  • In Japan, introduction of blue LED   lights at 11 stations resulted in 84% decrease in the number of suicides between 2000-2010 compared to other 60 stations without blue light (Matsubayashi et al., 2012).
  • The installation of blue lights on platforms, even were they to have some effect in preventing railway suicides at night, would have a much smaller impact than previously estimated (Ichikawa et al., 2014)
  • Visible light of short wavelength (blue light) may cause a photochemical injury to the retina, called blue-light hazard. This blue light hazard may come from the interaction of blue light with molecules constituting the retina or accumulating in the retina with age or in pathological conditions. Studies indicating a blue light hazard within the intensity range of natural light to the retina are based on animal experiments. The relevance of these experimental data for human pathological conditions is not very clear. In general, the probability that artificial lighting for visibility purposes induces any acute pathologic conditions is low (Kadotani et al., 2014).
  • Other literature suggests that once a person has crossed the “decision-line”, it will require much more than a barrier or a blue light to stop them (Bhui et al. 2013).
  • Blue lights have been implemented in Belgium at the end of 2014 at platform access areas and platform ends of 4 stations close to psychiatric institutions. INFRABEL   is currently collecting data (8-year data) to evaluate the effect. Intermediate results are encouraging suggesting positive feedback from customers and staff and an overall -54% decrease in the number of suicides at these stations in 2019. Final results are expected in 2025.
  • Blue lights are also being installed at several stations in Great Britain by Network Rail, and ProRail is considering to test them in the Netherdands.
  • A more general study on lighting interventions in train stations found indications of favourable responses from passengers, though these have been small effects (Ryan et al., 2022).
  • A study on innovative lighting interventions highlighted 10 functionalities that are valuable to prevention (Hallewell et al., 2022).

last update: 2023-12-18 Print